AndyO Blog

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Vaccine shot #1

Today, I received my first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. This happened at UW’s Northwest Hospital, about two miles from my house, from 9:45 to 10:30 a.m. 

It’s an absolute miracle of science that we have three vaccines in the United States after about a year of lockdown. I know they’re part of an “emergency use” protocol, but still it’s an impressive accomplishment.

We’re far from the end of this pandemic, but at least there’s some light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.

posted by AndyO @ 11:49 PM   0 comments

Sunday, March 14, 2021

One year of COVID-19 lockdown

A year ago this week, we entered the lockdown of the pandemic, a time when the world stopped. While there were attempts to reopen, the toll would turn out to enormous: over 500k people in the US lost their lives to this virus. 

For me, someone who could do their job from home, it became like a real-life version of the film, Groundhog Day, where every day felt the same with small differences. I was lucky to be able to do this, but it also contributed to a sense of agoraphobia—only venturing out when absolutely required. The grocery store, pharmacy, gas station. And Brenda ended up doing most of that. 

Later we we rediscovered Amazon Fresh, and even Brenda didn’t go out as much.

Adding to the uncertainty and craziness, we had a President, his administration, and enablers spinning a false narrative about the virus, preying on those who didn’t have a grasp on basic science or how viruses worked. I can’t say that I understand the complex science of viruses, but I know enough to understand this was a novel coronavirus. This meant we’d never seen it before, even if there had been similar viruses in the past, like MERS and SARS. What made COVID-19 unique was that it could transmit when people showed no symptoms, and it was airborne.

The other issue was there were no therapeutics that were effective. People had to be put on ventilators, and a lot of the time this meant they weren’t coming back. 

Aside from the continuous bad news, it was also a year of noticing the small things that we don’t always pay attention to. As I worked in the dining room, I watched hummingbirds buzzing by the window, and soon had multiple feeders out for them. I’d watch as one would often guard the food source all day, aggressively chasing others away. 

My cat’s daily routine became a kind of fascination. In the mornings she slept on the couch, the afternoons in our bedroom, and at night she yowled outside Drew’s room, begging to be let in. She seemed to grow more social overall.

Getting takeout after a month was a welcome change, although Brenda always made amazing food—from scratch or from Blue Apron. After a while we got tired of Blue Apron, too. 

When I went out to drive somewhere, I was always surprised by the number of people walking around. Parks were always filled with socially distant crowds. But it made sense, with not a lot of places to go.

A large snowstorm in February in Seattle broke the Groundhog Day effect. Suddenly, we had a rare blast of snow that went on for days. It felt like something had changed, even if it was just the weather turning icy. 

I know we have a long way to go, but I can also see light at the end of the tunnel.

posted by AndyO @ 10:06 PM   0 comments

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Trump acquitted in Impeachment trial #2

Though the outcome was never really in question, on Feb 13 Trump was acquitted by the Senate, 57 to 43, with seven Republicans joining the Democrats in his second impeachment trial. Trump celebrated in Florida by calling the whole thing a “witch hunt.” 

The Republican party is now split over whether to follow the ex-president as their leader. The seven who voted to convict are taking the biggest political hits, with many being censured in their respective states. I still don’t understand how anyone could support a president who tried to overturn an election with false accusations, and who ultimately lit the fire for an insurrection.

But if you look back at the win/lose politics and culture of fear that have infected Washington DC, it starts to make more sense. Trump’s sycophants somehow think the ex-president is the key to continued political victory. But even this isn’t a good enough reason, because of the clear and present danger Trump represents to our democracy. 

Trump will see this as an excuse to continue his politics of lies, corruption, and profiteering, although as a private citizen, his activities before and during his presidency will be open to more scrutiny.  

posted by AndyO @ 10:10 PM   0 comments

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Biden and Harris inauguration

Today, Joe Biden and Kamela Harris were inaugurated. The Capitol was like a fortress with 25,000 National Guard patrolling miles of fences with barbed wire. The show of force worked, with no violent disruptions by militias, white supremacists, and Trump loyalists who ransacked the Capitol two weeks ago. 

It was strange hearing someone who’s presidential speaking from the podium—someone who could deliver a speech to all Americans. After I watched Biden’s inaugural address, there was a clip of Trump’s farewell speech, and the difference was shocking. We’ve all gotten used to Trump’s improvised stand up routines. I know that was part of the appeal to his followers—that he spoke with a common language. But we should expect more from our leaders.

Even though Biden is humble, he also has the overwhelming self-confidence of someone who’s been in public service for most of his life. He knows how the system is supposed to work. He had something like 17 Executive Orders on his desk today, which overturned many of Trump’s worst policies in a single day. 

And let’s not forget the remarkable history that Kamala Harris made as the first woman to ascend to the vice presidency. It’s long-overdue.

I realized recently why there appears to be so much more time to think: it has everything to do with Trump being kicked off social media—about using mental energy to devote to what crazy thing he said. It’s frightening to see how powerful social media can be in the hands of a president/entertainer. But the silence has been serene. I only hope Biden returns to more formal channels of communication, like press conferences, where he can have a dialogue—instead of sending out to one-way tweets that echo around the world.

I can only hope that the Biden presidency will bring the back the cold light of the truth to the American conversation. There’s no room for a blizzard of lies anymore. We saw what can happen when the lies are repeated over and over by the president. As I’ve written before, some people will always believe what the president says, because of the power and respect that office holds. 

But it’s clear that we can’t take the truth for granted—even for Biden. We’ve seen presidents lie before, but never on a Trumpian scale. Things like elections that were won by over 7 million votes shouldn’t be in dispute. The gaslighting that Trump and his pals engaged in bordered on the psychotic—especially when it came to COVID-19. Someday we’ll get a full accounting of how many lives we could have saved with the truth.

posted by AndyO @ 12:36 AM   0 comments

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Impeachment, part two

Another historic day for the country. Nancy Pelosi, the Democrats, and 10 Republicans in the House impeached President Trump. No president in the history of our country has been impeached twice. For someone as egotistical and narcissistic as Trump, it’s as bad as a Scarlet Letter that he must wear in all the history books.


What’s more, he delivered his most presidential speech (on prerecorded video) since he won the election in 2016. It was carefully scripted and rehearsed, almost Nixonian in its duplicity—designed to deceive a few Republicans in the Senate from convicting him.

If Trump had recorded this video a week ago, he would be in much better shape, politically. Regardless, the man is a professional liar, who will say anything to stop the losses and ignominy—as businesses and cities cancel contracts with him. 

What I find most interesting and terrifying about Trump is the level of self-destruction that he has wrought upon himself and the country. He’s like a character in a movie who always falls back on their vice, ruins the wedding with a drunken speech, or loses his fortune because of bad karma.

It’s terrifying because this is a man who could, theoretically, start a nuclear war. But as it turns out, there’s a movie character for that scenario as well—Martin Sheen’s psychotic Greg Stillson in The Dead Zone. But unlike Trump, Stillson’s failure of character stops him before he can become president. In Trump’s case, we saw something similar with the Access Hollywood tape—an event that would have derailed any other candidate. 

I don’t think Trump will resign. But in some weird way, if he did it would actually improve his standing—because it would show he’s putting the country above himself for the first time. 
posted by AndyO @ 10:41 PM   0 comments